Covid-19, American lockdown and Donald Trump’s Wall.

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Covid-19, American lockdown and Donald Trump’s Wall.

This much is clear: President Donald Trump has worked tirelessly to strengthen, protect and finish building the southern United States border wall with Mexico. Tens of millions of US locals are still under stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders as coronavirus (COVID-19) cases settle across the nation. Worldwide, with more than 1.7 million coronavirus cases reported, the hardest hit nations, such as Turkey, have bought locals to stay inside your home, while others, consisting of Italy and Spain, have actually extended their lockdown orders. And to inspect the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, states and regions are extending their remain at house and shelter in place orders. Under these various government orders, the scope of where you can go and what you can do is changing. The Centers for Illness Control and Avoidance, for example, now suggests that people wear nonmedical face masks or face coverings in public. Here’s everything you require to learn about face masks and the coronavirus, and how to make your own masks or purchase premade face coverings. How can you protect yourself from the coronavirus when you do leave your home? And with many areas continuing to tighten constraints, when can you expect the orders to raise?

The months of March & April have focused the world’s attention to the continuing spread of COVID-19, from its first reported case in Wuhan, Hubei Providence China,[1] into the United States and now the world at large. As this month progresses more and more cases are being reported throughout the country. As with any world-health crisis, preventative measures are best, with fast-acting secondary measures to follow; however, this incident begs the question, could an active border wall decrease the spread of this global pandemic?

At this time, the border wall along the southern border of our country has not been completed. President Trump has made this project a priority preceding his election to office in 2016. As the times have turned, priority has shifted from this project, as is understood during these trying times. Experts are speculating the impact of the border wall, had it been completed prior to this unforeseeable circumstance. As of Saturday, March 21, 2020, we are seeing a rise in border counties in Texas, namely Hidalgo and Cameron Counties. Officials are concerned primarily due to a large migrant camp containing approximately 3,000 people located in Brownsville, Matamoros, Mexico, which is within a short distance of these border counties[2]. We do not know much about this disease but are aware that COVID-19 is highly contagious. Tents set up for the migrants are located within short proximity to each other, encouraging ease of the spread of disease. Already border control is refusing to process anyone without a valid passport or visa on our southern border, according to Sanchez. As most local and state governments have already aligned with the President, travel is being discouraged at this time unless it is of the utmost importance.

Border police, ICE and local law enforcement along our border is experiencing difficulty containing illegal crossings during this crucial time. The United States would certainly not be the first to shut down its borders, as has been seen in Italy over the past few weeks; however, as medical supplies are limited or non-existent, a push for illegal entry has the ability to increase over time. In an effort to keep our front-line personnel, border towns and citizens safe, many speculate that had a border wall been in place prior to the pandemic, we would stand a stronger chance for containing this virus.

In addition to criminal charges for illegal entry into the United States, civil statute  8 U.S.C. §1323(a)(1) exists for the purpose of allowing the government to impose civil penalties. While this has not been common practice during pandemics, additional measures can be taken to deter illegal immigration[3]. While we understand that a wall does not stop a viral outbreak, it can also be determined that it can deter the ease of access illegal immigrants have to our southern border. This fact becomes increasingly more important as continuing measures are being taken to limit the spread of this disease.

While events such as these are not commonplace, we can learn from the fact that, regardless of the cause, there is need to secure our own borders. We cannot predict what will happen when, but we can be prepared for the inevitable.

As our President has raised the border wall as a gaping issue before, we are now seeing one of the many applications of securing our borders. The best way to be prepared is simply to take preemptive measures. By using methods that do not exhaust our personnel and law enforcement, we can better handle circumstances out of our control.  

[1] https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/6/20-0233_article

[2] Sanchez, S. https://www.borderreport.com/top-stories/south-texas-covid-19-cases-spike-on-border-with-mexico/

[3] Rappaport, N. https://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/485279-a-rarely-used-fine-could-limit-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus-to-the

Why Build a Wall? Are Walls Effective?

We all know what a wall is, a noun which is a structural barrier between two pieces of land. Walls form boundaries, even send a message that rules must be followed. We are familiar with the ideas that walls are built to keep people in or keep them out. But we are still on the fence, so to speak, as to whether we should invest time, manpower and money in building our own infrastructure reinforcement.

There are pro and con arguments all around and I’m sure you have picked up on a few in passing conversation. The debate has turned from humanitarian efforts to protecting our southernmost cities from unnecessary cartel activity and ultimate fatal violence. Somewhere along the line you have formed an opinion about whether or not you believe walls are effective and more importantly whether or not they are ethically correct.

The best way to understand the issue begins with facts and understanding of the fundamental issues our country faces at this point in history. President Trump has clearly drawn his line in the sand as advocating for the completion of the wall along our southern border with Mexico. Whether you inherently agree with his statements are not, he raises some extremely relevant issues that must be looked at in more detail lest we make a fatal error that continues to harm our citizens and endanger our board cities.

           First, let’s begin with a brief history of walls in both ancient and modern times.

Ancient Walls

 Arguably one of the most famous walls must be mentioned first, the Great Wall of China. Started in 770 BC by the Chu State the Great Wall took an inordinate amount of time to build with construction ending in 1878 during the Qing Dynasty. [1] The inspiration for the building of the great wall came from the simplistic need of defense again enemies and the need to quash unauthorized movement into and out of the surrounding areas. It was found that the wall was an effective measure to cease unwanted activities while acting as a buffer against enemy invasions.

           Another famous wall, Hardrian’s Wall was constructed around 122 AD by the British army to separate the northern boundaries from the Roman Empire, which effectively cut off attacks by barbarian tribes and sealed approximately 73 miles of the Roman’s northwest frontier.[2]

           We could continue for quite a while on all of the ancient walls built by the Sumerians, Greeks, Persians, and more but they point is they all had one thing in common, protection for their citizens both in times of peace and war.

Modern Walls

 

           In 2002 Israel began construction of a border wall to prevent suicide bombings and illegal crossing, which often resulted in fatalities for its citizens. Both the Israeli government and its citizens were in overwhelming favor of this project. As a result of the construction of the wall between what is known as the “Green Line” not one suicide bomber has been able to access Israeli citizens. Prior to the construction of the wall approximately 1,000 deaths of Israeli citizens had occurred between 2000-2005.[3] Currently, Israel is now working on subterranean walls in order to block off the underground tunnels dug by the Palestinians. While this presents a new challenge, it does not deter from the fact that walls are an effective measure of keeping out unwanted, dangerous criminal activity.

This brings us to our own wall built in the 1990s from El Paso, Texas to San Diego, California. U.S. cities that border Mexican cities have had difficulty with high crimes from cartel activity, drug smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal activity.

Homeland Security supports continuing construction on the border wall citing an incident in 2018 in which an angry mob of 1,000 people stormed our borders. The portions of the wall that were comprised of newer construction held while the weaker section of the wall were easily breached. Border patrol was able to quash the incident without threat to any neighboring cities but this event[4], like many more proved a point of why a wall is necessary in the first place. 

New construction was approved to begin in February 2019, which would replace portions of the old wall in the San Diego/Tijuana area as well as construction of a new 14 mile stretch. According to the U.S. Customers and Border Protection Agency, barriers such as this, coupled with “technology, roads and personnel” have drastically decreased illegal entry through San Diego.[5] 

So, Do Walls Work?

Whether in ancient or modern times, the priority of a nation’s government is protection of its citizens. While the nature of these method have changed over the course of time, there remain certain security measures that are still effective today. Even as drug smuggling and trafficking have increased under our border through tunnels, Israel has shown how this can be combated through subterranean infrastructure.

In other words, we have an obligation to protect and secure our borders. By allowing illegal activity to run rampant we risk the health and well being of each citizen within our borders. Simple facts cannot be ignored, something must be done.

Do Drugs Really Enter the U.S. Through Our Borders?

 According to Gil Kerlikowsk, former director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection from 2014 – 2017 stated in an interview with NPR’s Michael Martin that there are two general ways of drugs entering the border, either through the southwest corridor of our border with Mexico and through international mail. While drug smuggling techniques are being improved upon by cartels, the fact still remains that drugs are still caught at the border. DrugAbuse.com paints an even bleaker picture of drug smuggling stats, citing that in 2009 heroin seizures tripled from years prior while in 2014 meth seizures quadrupled from prior years. In 2015 the Southern border is responsible for 1,555,552 lbs of illegal substances, while the entire amount of drugs smuggled into the U.S. totaled 1,564,511 lbs for the entire country. 2012-2014 boasted even higher numbers of illegal substances such as marijuana, meth, heroine, cocaine and other various substances. The southern border overwhelmingly brings in these substances as opposed to the Canadian border or other ports of entry.

Progress on U.S./Mexican Border Wall

Spanning 1,900 miles the southwest border of the United States has been a hotly contested subject on the docket for 2020. As President Trump has promised, an additional $7.2 billion in funding has been allocated to the building of the wall according to Breitbart. 100 miles of the “upgraded” wall will soon be followed by an additional 350 miles. U.S. border towns have higher risk factors, such as an uptick in opioid related deaths a 2019 study claims. Additional issues plague these border towns including higher unemployment rates due in part to the plant closures of JAMA Internal Medicine. [6]

The hope going into 2020 that significant progress will be made on construction efforts. Funding for the $7.2 billion will be taken from the Pentagon funds which come from “military construction projects and counternarcotics fundings” according to the Washington Post in their article published January 13, 2020. Hopes are to reach 450 miles by the end of the year. While the construction process may seem like a slow process many support the construction of these new barriers. An interview with John Burnett, a southwest correspondent for NPR claims the wall will be 18-30 feet in height with a mesh like component so that agents will have the ability to see through the wall. This will also help with any water accumulation, which means the wall will not only be a source for protection from drug, human trafficking but also a practical way to aid in the battle again illegal immigration.[7]

           

Just within the past 3 weeks, Chad Wolf, acting DHS Secretary lauded the building of the first 100 miles of the border wall near Yuma. Prior to this most recent stretch, construction began near South Donna, Texas back in October according to the Gateway Pundit[8]. Progress on the border wall is intended to quell the uptick in gang activity along the border, among other threats. Current measures taken have been found to be ineffective. According to webuildthewall.us existing barriers were only 3’ high in some places and constructed from scrap metal. It is clear that this was not an effective measure to deter criminal activity.

DHS is on-board with the construction and quality of the wall proposed by Trump. Burnett stated in his interview that DHS will have the final say on how the wall will be constructed including the height and materials used. President Trump has prioritized the process and has scheduled construction in areas of greater concern first. He has deemed these “Priority Zones” which are labeled as 1-4, with 1 being of the utmost importance. A color coded map of these zones can be accessed at webuildthewall.us/us-border/ which also provides updates on the status of the project. As previously mentioned construction in Yuma, a Priority 1 zone is under way. Arizona senator, Martha McSally and Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls are excited to invite the current efforts to secure the border. Time and again when residents of these border towns are interviewed, the opposition against the wall is nill compared to what is generally reported in the news.

So What Has President Trump Been Up To?

In President Trump’s term he has worked tirelessly to protect America from abuse of our asylum system, which has allow dangerous people to enter the U.S. under the guise of asylum. According to the White House, Trump has also successfully closed the Flores Settlement Agreement which guaranties that families can be kept together during immigration proceedings. ICE has removed 143,099 illegal aliens, within the United States, with an astounding amount having a criminal background, to the tune of 86%, which is approximately 123,065 persons.

Trump is empowering our government entities to be able to perform their jobs as intended. By putting tools, legislation and enforcement capabilities in the hand of ICE, DHS, police, border patrol, etc. Trump is working tirelessly on efforts to protect U.S. Citizens. Those that have taken advantage of and abused the lax systems in place before are now running into laws put in place for the protection of the United States.

Furthering efforts to protect our economy Trump has taken action to ensure those who remain in the U.S. are able to support themselves and do not become a drain on the healthcare and our welfare system.[9] By using our legal system and placing these safeguards to reduce abuse of our resources, President Trump has proven that he will do what he intends to and he is very concerned about the future of the United States of America. We must have a President who is pulling for the betterment of it’s citizens and Trump has proven he is willing to work for and not against the United States.

Not only does the President have the best intentions of the American people on his mind, he has also provided that he is willing to fight for the illegal immigrants who are legitimately seeking asylum by ensuring families are kept together, legal processes are streamlined and those truly seeking help will get it. There is not one country in the world who would allow others to walk across their borders without inhibition. Why should the U.S. be any different?

           

President Trump truly has stood on his word, as he promised at the beginning of his term of presidency. When our governmental entities, whether federal, state or local work together, we can accomplish so much more. Reduced crime, including violent crime and drug activity have been affected by the efforts of this Administration and puts the American people one step closer to safety within our borders.

[1] Travel China Guide. August 2, 2019. https://www.travelchinaguide.com/china_great_wall/facts/when-built.htm

[2] Breeze, David. English Heritage. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall/hadrians-wall-history-and-stories/history/

[3] Jewish Virtual Library. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/background-and-overview-of-israel-s-security-fence

[4] Homeland Security. December 18, 2018. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2018/12/12/walls-work

[5] U.S. Customs and Border Protection. February 19, 2019. https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/san-diego-secondary-wall-construction-begin

[6] Washington Post: Donald Trump Will Transfer $7.2 Billion for Border Wall https://www.breitbart.com/economy/2020/01/13/washington-post-donald-trump-transfer-7-2-billion-border-wall/

[7] https://www.npr.org/2017/03/19/520708174/government-outlines-details-for-border-wall-proposals

[8] https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/01/thank-you-potus-acting-dhs-secretary-celebrates-100-miles-of-new-border-wall-with-mexico/

[9] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-delivered-record-breaking-results-american-people-first-three-years-office/